With less than two weeks before Israelis head to the polls for the fifth time in less than four years, former Prime Minister and leader of the opposition Benjamin Netanyahu waxed biblical in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) CEO Gordon Robertson on the 700 Club program.
In the interview, Netanyahu, who has just released his autobiography, emphasized how the establishment of the State of Israel represented the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy. He also thanked Evangelical Christians for their support of the Jewish State.
“The founding of Israel came after centuries of exile” he explained. “Pilgrims, massacre, culminating in the greatest massacre of them all, The Holocaust.
“The founding of the state was really meant to do two things,” he added. “One, to fulfill the biblical prophecy of the ingathering of the exiles. And also the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in our ancient homeland, the land of Israel. That was achieved. But once it was achieved, it wasn’t necessarily permanently guaranteed unless we made sure it was guaranteed.”
The first prime minister to be born in Israel after its Declaration of Independence, Netanyahu sat in the prime minister’s seat for 15 years, making him the longest-serving prime minister.
In the interview, he discussed how he felt that securing the state after its establishment represented the mission of his generation and of his own life.
“While my father’s generation was charged with founding the state, my generation was charged with securing its future,” he noted. “I devoted my life to make Israel strong, economically strong, militarily strong, and diplomatically to be able to create what I call the iron triangle of peace. We’re so strong that the Arab countries around us, instead of seeking to destroy us recognize that we’re here to stay. And so, one by one we made peace with them. And we just made, as you said, the four historic Abraham Accords which I describe in detail how that was achieved with the help of President Trump and his team.”
The Israeli leader also emphasized how what Israel has become must be considered nothing short of a modern day miracle.
“A tiny state on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean is now ranked as the world’s eighth power with one-tenth of 1 percent of the world’s population,” he said. “That’s not something that you can explain away. It’s a miracle of faith and fortitude. And I think it’s an allegory for all of humanity. This is what a free people with sufficient resolve and faith can achieve. And that’s up to everyone to achieve.”
Robertson responded in kind, noting that Israel had fulfilled its Biblical role as a “shining light unto all the nations.”
He cited a section of Netanyahu’s memoir in which he described conversations the Israeli PM had with former President Barack Obama. The two were known to have disagreed on subjects, most notably on US relations with Iran.
In his autobiography, Netanyahu quoted Obama as saying, “Bibi, nobody likes Goliath. I don’t want to be an 800-pound gorilla strutting on the world stage. For too long we acted that way. We need to lead in a different way.”
When asked about his response, Netanyahu told Robertson that he was “surprised” at the statement. With the world in dire straits with “Iran racing to a nuclear arsenal, terrorism abounding everywhere, and the world order being challenged everywhere,” Netanyahu disagreed with Obama, believing that a more assertive approach was necessary.
“I didn’t want to be an 800-pound gorilla,” Netanyahu quipped. “I wanted to be a 1,200-pound gorilla. Because I think people respect strength.”
Netanyahu noted that, though he respected President Obama, he strongly disagreed with him on this point.
“I think that Obama believed that peace brings power,” Netanyahu explained. “And I believe that power brings peace, and maintains peace, vis a vis non-democratic neighbors.”
He noted that Obama believed the Iran deal would forestall Iran’s nuclear weapons program but Netanyahu believed that way to prevent Iran from pursuing a nuclear arsenal was to make Israel strong. He also emphasized that a nuclear-armed Iran was a threat to the US as well as to Israel.
“Since Obama disagreed with me on how to oppose this Iranian move, I had no choice but to go to the joint session of Congress.”
Netanyahu pointed to the Iranian government’s brutal efforts at suppressing the ongoing protests as proof that the Islamist regime should not have nuclear weapons.
He suggested that the protests could signal a massive change in Iran.
“I actually made some video clips for the Iranian people on a number of occasions, and I was amazed by the enormous number of responses that we got with names, with addresses,” he said. “That told me that there is a level of resistance there and frustration there that was not fully understood. And that’s coming out now.”
“Will that change the regime?” Netanyahu asked. “Perhaps not right away. But it does open up possibilities for action in the future. I think to have the radicalist Islamic regime of Iran committed to the destruction of Israel, the destruction of the United States, the destruction of our common Judeo-Christian civilization, to have them with ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons I think is a poppable threat to our common future.”
The Israeli leader said that he “would not hesitate to use whatever means that I could to bring about the end of this regime,” because that is also what Iranian people wish.
Robertson cited another section of Netanyahu’s book in which then-Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that the only pathway to peace in the Middle East was through the “two-state solution” and the creation of a Palestinian state. The signing of the Abraham Accords graphically illustrated that Kerry’s statement was a fallacy.
“Do you ever get fundamentally offended by what they say?” Robertson asked, noting that Kerry’s approach displayed a fundamental ignorance of Israel’s history.
“I try to channel my frustration into positive action,” Netanyahu answered. “In this case, it wasn’t only our history. This is the land of the Bible.”
Netanyahu emphasized that the Jews were not “occupiers.”
“We come from Judea,” he said. “That’s where the word Jew comes from. Judea and Samaria is the heartland of the Jewish people to which we’ve been attached for over 3,000 years. Jerusalem has been our capital since King David established it 3,000 years ago.”
Netanyahu described the two-state solution as “cleansing [Judea and Samaria] ethnically of Jews,” an approach that would be unthinkable in any other part of the world.
“And yet that is what the foreign policy establishment has been saying for years,” Netanyahu stated, explaining that peace with the Palestinians is impossible. He noted that they have rejected a Palestinian state several times.
“The Palestinians don’t want a state next to Israel,” he said. “They want a state instead of Israel.”
The solution, according to Netanyahu, was to sidestep the Palestinians and deal directly with the Arab states at large.
“That’s how we got four peace agreements in four months,” he explained. “And I believe that if I come back to office, we will get a fifth and a sixth and a seventh, ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, isolating the Palestinian rejectionists until they too come around.”
Robertson noted that the Biden administration seems fixated on a two-state solution based on the 1967 ceasefire lines and with a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.
“The problem with the Palestinians is the Palestinians,” Netanyahu responded. “They refuse to accept Israel in any boundary. They refuse to accept the Jewish state in any border. As long as they persist in that, you can’t really solve any of their problems.”
Netanyahu concluded by saying, “Politics involves a lot of compromises. That’s natural. But I don’t compromise on one thing; Israel’s security and survival. That’s something I stand on. And if need be, I stand alone. But I know we have many many friends in America and around the world. And a great majority of them are evangelical and believing Christians. And it’s an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all of you.”